Read more about the recovery from the October wildfires: nbbj.news/recovery

The Sonoma County Department of Health Services recently was awarded a $1 million grant to continue the local version of the California Helping Outreach Possibilities Empowering (HOPE) program, according to the agency.

Formed as part of the county’s recovery response to the October fires, California HOPE works to help individuals and communities recover from natural and human-caused disasters through community outreach and access to mental health services. The program targets and supports vulnerable populations, such as seniors, Latino residents, and families with children age five and under, according to the department.

With its original Federal Emergency Management Agency grant set to end in December, Health Services applied for and received the $1 million grant from Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit to continue the program.

The grant will be used to create a field-based crisis counseling program that engages survivors wherever they are in the community — home, work or any other place, according to Health Services.

“This grant is one of the ways we are demonstrating our commitment to some of the most vulnerable people in our community who continue to feel the effects of trauma after the wildfires,” said Judy Coffey, R.N., Kaiser Permanente senior vice president and Marin-Sonoma area manager.

“Providing ongoing access to crisis counseling and mental health resources is a vital element of our recovery from the wildfires of October 2017,” said James Gore, chairman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “As we near the anniversary of the fires, many of our fire survivors need that support more than ever and will for years to come.”

In the last three months, California HOPE staff members reportedly have been making nearly 1,000 contacts per month.

“Receiving this additional funding will allow us to continue this great work well into the next calendar year,” said Wendy Wheelwright, Health Services project manager for California HOPE: Sonoma. “But most importantly, it tells survivors that our community has not forgotten them and continues to walk with them in this recovery.”

California HOPE is funded by FEMA and is administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority in conjunction with county mental health agencies. The program started in late 2015 after the devastating Butte and Valley fires, the latter of which burned 76,000 acres and 1,238 homes in Lake County.

Read more about the recovery from the October wildfires: nbbj.news/recovery